Fordham University History
There was a widespread myth on campus that the Fordham cemetery is a "phantom" one (tombstones but no remains). Documents housed in the University Archives (diaries, reports, charts and publications) provide the following facts about the cemetery and they imply a refutation of the myth.
The Chronology of the Cemetery
- 1847, July 11 - First burial in the old Fordham cemetery on a hillside, east part of campus: Joseph Creeden, aged 26, Irish-born Jesuit novice Brother.
- 1850, November 1 - The remains of Irish-born Rev. Eugene Maguire were re-interred in the Fordham cemetery. He was the only Jesuit who died in St. Mary's College, KY; at age 33, he expired on June 11, 1833. The Jesuits came to Fordham from St. Mary's in 1846.
- 1889, April - After payment of $93,966.25 New York City took title to 26.845 acres of Fordham's east campus, which included the college cemetery; the property was taken by the authority of the state 1884 New Parks Law. Those acres later became part of the New York Botanical Garden. Thereafter the cemetery could no longer be used and so for a short time 3 Jesuits' bodies were kept in a vault in the St. Raymond cemetery.
- 1890, January 21-28 - The remains of 61 Jesuits (including the 4 recently deceased ), 3 seminarians, 9 college students, and 2 workmen were transferred to the new cemetery near the university church. The remains of one Brother and one workman were not found. The transfers were meticulously documented in Latin and English by Fr. Joseph Zwinge, S.J., the Fr. Minister (administrator).
- 1890, January 26 - First burial in the "new" cemetery: Fr. James Perron, aged 72, French- born former French army officer who was regarded as a model Jesuit.
- 1909, January 24 - Last burial in the Fordham cemetery: New York-born Fr. William O'B. Pardow, aged 62, formerly Jesuit provincial superior and famous preacher.
- 1931 - Campus engineering blueprint showed entrance to the cemetery was on its south side (Fordham Rd. side). A chart dated 1950 confirmed that entrance.
- 1950-1953 - Sometime during these years the entrance gate and its white marble posts were moved to the north side of the cemetery, and a brick wall, surmounted by a monstrance-like blessing symbol, was erected on the south side.
- 1959, March 20-23 - To facilitate the building of Faber Hall the remains of 38 Jesuits were moved to the west and south-west sides of the cemetery.
- 1998, September 22 - Rev. Joseph A. O'Hare, S.J., appointed a committee to study the most appropriate way to insure the sacred character of the campus cemetery.
- 1999 - At the committee's suggestion, the deteriorating tombstones were replaced by low granite markers. The cemetery and the markers were blessed by the Rev. Gerald Blaszczak, S.J., Rector of the Jesuit Community, in a well-attended ceremony.
- 2000, April 5 - A permanent plaque was placed beside the cemetery to bear witness to those interred in "God's Holy Acre." (1-7-2001)
Text of the Year 2000 Cemetery Plaque
"IN THEIR HOPE OF RESURRECTION HERE LIE THE REMAINS OF
124 SONS OF ST. IGNATIUS LOYOLA: 68 JESUIT PRIESTS;
44 JESUIT BROTHERS; 12 JESUIT SCHOLASTICS;
77 OF THEM HAD ASSIGNMENTS TO FORDHAM.
OTHERS BURIED IN THE SAME CEMETERY FOR WHOM AND WITH WHOM
THE JESUITS LABORED ARE: 3 DIOCESAN SEMINARIANS,
9 STUDENTS, AND 2 COLLEGE WORKMEN.
MAY THEY REST IN THE PEACE OF CHRIST."
Fr. Thomas Hennessy, S.J. February 7, 2001